SUN Hockey Pool

Newbies bond over big game

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

Almost as quickly as they arrived, Mike Leclerc and Brian Boucher had to leave town.

This time, though, the newest members of the Calgary Flames were embarking on a road trip with their teammates rather than being shipped out as part of a trade.

Although the jaunt is short -- the team flew to San Jose yesterday and will jet back to Calgary after tonight's game -- it will give the Flames a chance to get to know their new teammates in a more relaxed environment.

"My first day was a morning skate and a game day," said Boucher. "Guys are a little more intense on a game day.

"Definitely, you do bond on the road. It's one of those things. You can't force it, it just happens over time. You get to know guys and get to be comfortable with them. They get to know you and bonds are formed. That's what Mike and I look forward to doing here in the next little while."

Leclerc hasn't felt uncomfortable since arriving in Calgary Thursday afternoon but is looking forward to learning more about his new team.

"They've made me feel quite at home so far," said Leclerc. "Any time you're stuck together on the road or in a hotel you really bond and get to know guys a lot more."

Boucher has a history with Daymond Langkow, his teammate in Philadelphia, Phoenix and Tri-City in the WHL but doesn't expect his friend to give him much insight into the habits of his fellow Flames.

"It's tough to get a lot out of Daymond," said the goaltender with a grin. "He likes it here, he's enjoying his time here."

With the team gathering to watch the Super Bowl yesterday shortly after they arrived at the downtown hotel, the Flames no doubt got a glimpse of the personalities behind the numbers.

Then again, Leclerc and Boucher might have been a little distracted during the big game, with Boucher pulling for Bill Cowher and the Pittsburgh Steelers while Leclerc rooted for his favourite team, the Seattle Seahawks.

However, Boucher was well aware what the team's top priority is in San Jose.

"We've got to keep in mind it's a day before a game, too," he said. "We have a job to do when we get out there."

Andrew Ference admitted friendships can be cemented on the road but said it doesn't take a trip away from the Saddledome to mesh with newcomers in the NHL.

"It's a pretty tight group as far as our team goes but everybody knows somebody in the hockey world," said Ference. "It's not that hard for somebody to come into a locker-room and get right on track. Even if you literally didn't know a single guy in the locker-room, you'd have a mutual friend or a mutual acquaintance."

Ference says, in his experience, most hockey players are "on the same wavelength" and it doesn't take a roadie to get in synch.

"It's actually probably easier than most people think to come into a completely new team and join up with guys that used to be your enemy," said Ference.

Boucher quickly proved Ference right.

"It's funny. You hate to play against certain guys and then once you get in the same locker-room with them, they're all good guys," said Boucher. "They've all been real kind and gracious so far."


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